clap clap blog: we have moved
Monday, July 28, 2003
Reading this Salon story about a College Republican conference, I couldn't help but think: man, I wish Hunter S. Thompson wrote this. There's some good tidbits in there, but overall, the general tone of sneering condescension--"their faces hard and triumphant atop blue suits and evening gowns as they belted out the letters" etc.--was, I think, less useful than Thompson's usual one of shocked disbelief and willing intervention.
"As conservatives, we don't hate America," Erickson told his young audience. "The life of a liberal is hell. It is not possible to have a debate, a discussion, with someone who at their root, at their core, hates everything this country stands for but doesn't hate it enough to leave."
Ann Coulter's latest book, "Treason," which tarred virtually all Democrats as traitors, may have been denounced by conservative intellectuals, but its message has pervaded the party. Gene McDonald, who sold "No Muslims = No Terrorists" bumper stickers at the Conservative Political Action Conference in January, was doing a brisk trade in "Bring Back the Blacklist" T-shirts, mugs and mouse pads.
The room filled up again, though, when Warrior, an ex-WWF wrestler who has built a second career as a mascot for the right, took the stage that afternoon. Warrior -- that's his full legal name -- spoke at the Conservative Political Action conference in January, and has been one of the most requested speakers among conservative organizations ever since.
Dressed in a blue pinstriped suit, his long, dirty-blond hair pulled into a ponytail, Warrior explained why he'd left the world of wrestling. "When it became degenerate and perverted," he said, "I dismissed myself from pursuing it as a career anymore."
The speech that followed contained references to thinkers from Socrates to Tom Paine, and perhaps it would require a scholar of the classics to discern its meaning. "America was founded on that primary premise, that America would survive only as long as its people live up to their means," Warrior thundered.
One message that was clear was a hatred of nuance or ambivalence. To defeat the "pervasive degeneracy, ignorance and destruction of soul" that prevails today, he said, "you must live to judge and be ready to be judged ... extremism in defense of moral behavior is no vice." [note: quote of the day.] The saying "there are two sides to every story," he told his audience, "brings your loved ones closer and closer to tyranny and outright annihilation."
If Bush and his successors remain in power for the next decade, Cole believes, we'll have a world "where leaders say what they mean and follow it up ... millions and millions will enjoy the freedoms that our forefathers fought for. Democracy will spread across the world. Iraq was a phenomenal start. In Africa, the United States is helping Liberia and giving AIDS relief. Soon, they'll be back on the economic track. People now living in squalor will experience a home-owning boom like that following World War II. Look at how Staten Island was developed ..."
Alexandre Pesey, a 28-year-old French conservative writing a Ph.D. thesis on the conservative movement in America, England and Germany, admires Bush's honesty and was pleased with the reception his American comrades had given him. But "some are a bit simple," he mused. "You can find strange people with American-flag ties." The bellicose religiosity of the event, with group prayers before every meal, also puzzled him. "That we cannot understand," he says. "Religion is private."
Sibeni, who had spiky hair, glasses and a long face, is high-strung and given to rash pronouncements. He denounced assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. for "dividing the country" and trying to help African-Americans "advance over the white society," and defended American support of the brutal Augusto Pinochet regime in Chile. Chen, who went to high school with Sibeni in Great Neck, Long Island...Chen seemed so mild and centrist that at one point I called him a closet Democrat. Taken aback, he replied: "How am I a closet Democrat? I'm racist, I love guns and I hate welfare."
He wasn't kidding. "I'm racist against anybody who doesn't work for a living," said Chen, whose family comes from Taiwan. "We're in Washington D.C. You can guess who that is." He's no fan of religion, but says he's less bothered about paying tax dollars to faith-based programs than to "crack whores who have eight kids because it's easier than working."
"I wish there could be racial equality," said Sibeni, who, while in high school, refused to attend Martin Luther King Day celebrations. "The number one reason there's racial inequality is because of hip-hop."
All four of them believe they have lost opportunities to affirmative action. "I applied to NYU and I didn't get in," says Sibeni. "My SAT scores weren't the greatest ..."
"You were just another white guy from Long Island," says Ferruggia. "The only person you can really discriminate against anymore is white men."
Ferruggia, the daughter of a pharmaceutical salesman, was valedictorian of her Southwest Florida high school. "I had the highest SAT scores in between five and 10 years" at her school, she says, and feels affirmative action cheated her out of scholarships. "I watched minority after minority after minority accept these awards ... I'm tired of people whining that I'm taking away from them."
"A lot of poor white people in the trenches of Appalachia, they don't complain, they go out and work," said Ferruggia's blond friend, who sat quietly next to her for most of the evening. "Black people have been given a lot of chances ..."
"And they always screw it up," said Sibeni.